Exercise, kōrero and friendship

When the Phillipstown Better Breathing Coffee Group gather at the local community hub on Monday mornings the result is lots of laughter and kōrero, as well as exercise.

The group’s coordinator Pauline Mohi says this group includes some motivated Māori wahine who encourage and inspire each other, which is fantastic. 

“The group is one of the Canterbury Community Respiratory Support and Exercise Groups, Ngā Rōpū Kai Tiaki ō Ōtautahi, that offer fun and easy exercise, connection and education about living with a long-term breathing condition,” says Pauline. 

One of the group members, Karewai Knap, had a double hip operation in 2016 and was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2017. 

“I’ve always been active and when I couldn’t walk to Eastgate Mall, which is eight minutes away from my home, without being puffed I knew something wasn’t right,” says Karewai. 

“I did the Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation in New Brighton and then joined this exercise and coffee group. I also do gym work, tai chi and I’ve just started weight-lifting and bench pressing.”

“I still love to come here on a Monday, as it was my stepping-stone to my other activities. I love what I’m doing and I’m going to keep on doing it.”

Whiro Tui Merito got double pneumonia in March, which stopped her from doing everyday tasks like pegging out the washing.  

“It knocked me right out and I couldn’t walk or breathe very well, but I’m so much better now and I can do lots of things,” says Whiro. 

Patsy Hooper said she comes for the company, exercise and that communicating with everyone in the group is key for her. 

Mark Crawford, one of a couple of men who attend the group, said he lives in a council complex and everyone keeps to themselves. 

“A lot of men are hesitant to do a lot of things, but my advice is to get out of your shell and join a group.

It’s very beneficial; you need to look after your mental health as much as everything else,” says Mark. 
“Just get out and enjoy the day and try not to worry about things.” 

“We have fun, we have morning teas and listen to guest speakers who present about all sorts of topics,” says Pauline. 

“That you’re together and having fun is as big a part of it as the exercises.”

People should talk to their general practice team if they are struggling with their breathing. If appropriate they may be referred to a Better Breathing course, a free eight-week pulmonary rehabilitation programme available for people with long-term breathing conditions like COPD. From this programme they can join an exercise and coffee group. 

A timetable is available on the Canterbury Clinical Network website here and the latest Better Breathing Consumer Working Group newsletter is here

Watch a video of the group here.

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